I actually don’t know how to start this one. I am now in Scotland. I survived the overnight flight from Halifax that arrived me in Glasgow at 8am, then I took at 12:00-ish train up to Inverness. I spent the last week walking by the River Ness (that leads to the Ness Islands and eventually Loch Ness…THE Loch Ness. With the dinosaur). It is really wet here. Like nothing I anticipated and it’s very cold to me (but apparently not so much to everyone else). I bought a toque the other day because I felt so cold.
One of my friends flew up from England to watch the race. I didn’t know until afterwards how complex that trip actually was, so, thank you. I met him 10 years ago at a hostel in Rome and we’ve kept in touch since then, although this is the first time we’ve met up in person since Italy in 2008. Since he arrived, we did a boat tour of Loch Ness and Urqhart Castle (which is where I used to want to get married). I’ve seen Drumnadrochit and a number of other little towns that are stunningly picturesque. And there are a lot of sheep in Scotland. I tried scotch, which was not the life altering experience for me that it may be for others. And apparently the one that I tried that I thought was okay wasn’t actually scotch. Whoops.
A couple days ago I did the River Ness 10k. It was cold and wet and amazing. The race was wonderful and soggy. By the end I was completely drenched, my shoes soaked through and super happy. I brought my phone to take photos, had a little seizure around the 3k point and dropped my phone and stepped on it. I am typing very gently because the screen looks like a spiderweb. Despite the mini seizure and stopping to take photo, my time was 56:32 and I came in 782nd (out of 1776 runners in the 10k). I’m pretty happy with that. Maybe not with having stepped on my phone, but my results. What’s amazing to me is the difference in the elevation and what that has meant. I feel like every breath is full of oxygen and there’s no struggle to get air when I’m running here. I love it.
The guesthouse I stayed at (Ach Aluinn) I would HIGHLY recommend. The proprietors were amazing and kind and absolutely everything a person would imagine hearing about “Highland hospitality”. I actually had a seizure shortly after arriving while in bed and because I seemed unwell at breakfast, the proprietor came and checked on me to ensure everything was okay and if I needed anything. I explained the situation to her and I feel terrible because then she worried about me. I would go back to Inverness in a heartbeat, and so much of that is because of the kindness of the people.
The morning after the race, I was having breakfast prior to checking out, and ended up in a conversation with two gentlemen who had run the marathon. By the end of the conversation, they offered me a ride then from Inverness to Glasgow with them, which I accepted. They pointed out a lot of the historical points along the way, we discussed running AND they happen to be in a similar field of work to me. It’s like absolutely everything is blowing my mind about this country at every opportunity.
Currently I’m in Edinburgh. The Airbnb I am at is fantastic, and super close to the Royal Mile. It’s walking distance to a lot of things, and I’ve already reached the point where I’m going to have to purchase another piece of luggage for the things I’ve purchased. There are some big ass spiders in this city too. I’m fortunate in that spiders don’t bother me, but the one I saw yesterday was pushing the limits (it was like the size of my hand!!!).
I could definitely see the difference in the geography when I went from the Highlands to the major cities. I can’t imagine how visible the difference would be to go all the way south. I had the combination of history and the geography explained to me, and what the impact still is today. I could definitely see it. Back in the day, a few hundred years ago, it was less expensive to raise sheep in the Highlands but harder to farm. Peoples lives were worth less than the life of a sheep. It was more valuable to evict a village to raise sheep than to allow the people to keep living where they had always been. It’s all very romantic in Braveheart and Outlander, but when you see the skeletons of castles and villages, to actually realize that there were people who endured that…and those skeletons are everywhere. They might look only like rocks, or just the bare minimum of a wall. It might be an entire castle that has tours every hour on the hour. It might be the underground ghost tours. But those rocks were somebodies home, and those ghosts were people once. Seeing the locations in person takes away the romanticism a bit.
Anyways. Off to sleep. I’m going to do an early morning run around Holyrood House and up and down the Royal Mile tomorrow morning. Not quite into taper week yet for the Victoria Marathon! Hopefully I’m only sleeping with spiders and not ghosts!